SELC claims demand doesn’t support two new natural gas pipelines

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) released a study Sept. 12 that claims there is insufficient demand to justify construction of the planned Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines.

Utilities and their investors have insisted the new pipelines are necessary to meet the growing energy demands of Virginia and the Carolinas, but the researchers determined that was not the case, SELC said in a Sept. 12 news release.

The report from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Synapse Energy Economics asserts that with some modifications and upgrades, the existing system of buried natural gas pipelines is sufficient to meet the region’s peak demands through 2030.

“Additional interstate natural gas pipelines, like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, are not needed to keep the lights on, homes and businesses heated, and industrial facilities in production,” Synapse said in the report.

“This assessment of sufficient capacity includes only reported storage capacity, ignoring the existence of additional unreported storage capacity demonstrated by recent years’ peak hour demand,” Synapse said in the report.

Synapse had issued a report in June 2015 that questioned the economic benefits of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Dominion (NYSE:D) and Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), among other corporate owners, are proposing the roughly 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The ACP would originate in Harrison County, West Virginia, run to Greensville County, Virginia and then south into eastern North Carolina. On Sept. 1, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project filed a 401 water quality application concerning West Virginia with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The Mountain Valley Pipeline would span roughly 300 miles northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.

Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, is a joint venture of EQT Midstream Partners, LP; NextEra US Gas Assets, LLC; Con Edison Gas Midstream, LLC; WGL Midstream; Vega Midstream MVP LLC; and RGC Midstream, LLC.

The Synapse report was released by SELC, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, and the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance. The Synapse researchers studied the wintertime peak demands for the Virginia and Carolinas region, when natural gas is in highest demand for power plants, homes and businesses.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s developers claim that “demand for natural gas in Virginia and North Carolina is expected to increase in coming decades due to a combination of population growth and displacement of coal‐fired electric power generation,” Synapse noted.

“The assessment of need from the developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline has fewer details, though they also base their needs assessment on their expectation of growth in electric power generation from natural gas,” Synapse said in the report.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.